Mahdi Army fighters said Thursday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.
As noted earlier, there are reports that the Mahdi Army’s (really more a collection of thugs, not even a real militia) fallback plan is a withdrawal south into the Diwaniyah area. Of course, if they’re really under “siege” it might be too late to withdraw effectively.
Incidentally, this might be an indication of the real change in the way we’re going to fight this war. Not a surge in troops, though more boots on the ground will almost always be welcome, but a surge in our tactics and strategy. As far as I’ve been able to gather, the biggest complaint from our combat troops isn’t a lack of men or of armor or of things that need to be done. It’s been a lack of commitment to take the fight to the bad guys.
A shift to more offensive operations would be a winner with or without additional troops. There’s a long, long way to go, but I think what we’ve seen in the past week is as good as we’ve seen in the past six months. Let’s hope we keep it up.